DON’T GIVE UP ON CLIFFORD’S THIRD IN THE SERIES: BUT DRESS FOR THE CLIMATE

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Give Up The dead cvrRag and Bone men have been around since the early 1800’s, originally they were known as “Bone Grubbers” who collected old carcasses and rags. Primarily an English phenomenon, they may have been known by other names in Europe.

During the 19 and 20 centuries, most rag and bone men went around on foot collecting scrap metal but the wealthier ones who operated around the big English towns and cities used horse and carts before eventually moving on to vans or lorries. The squalid and hand to mouth existence of the Rag and Bone men was highlighted in the late sixties early seventies, when the BBC ran the comedy series Steptoe & Son.

Nowadays the rag and bone man has been all but replaced by the house clearance people and antiques dealers who will collect scrap but more lucratively unwanted furniture, ornaments or junk and sell them on. While all the time, hoping to stumble on an antique, even these modern day rag and bone men have been portrayed in a British TV drama, yes before Ian MacShane crossed the pond to make himself a household name in American dramas like Deadwood, he played the title role in the TV series, Lovejoy as an  antiques dealer. A wide-boy, who along with his hired help, solved murders and mysteries around England. Never has the rag and bone man or even the house clearance guy had a major role in the literary crime fiction world, that is until this month’s book. It’s ‘Give Up The Dead’ by Joe Clifford and published in June this year by Oceanview Publishing (www.oceanviewpub.com) .

 

Jay Porter is a former insurance investigator, whose life is now in tatters, three years after he broke up a Paedophile ring in his local town in New Hampshire run by a Judge with connections. The result was a severe beating by a local gang of hoodlums and near death experience on a frozen lake which have left him with a permanent limp.  It also cost him  his marriage, family and job and his junkie brothers life.  Now he works as a house clearance operative for a local firm. He’s in line to become partner and possibly owner when his boss retires but there is stiff competition in his hometown of Ashton as another house clearance firm is trying to squeeze Jay and his boss out. One snowy night around Thanksgiving, Jay is visited by a mysterious stranger who offers him a life changing amount of money to find a missing teenager, who it appears, is the centre of a custody battle between two wealthy parents in Boston. Jay treats the offer with skepticism and passes on it, only for his boss to be found beaten to within an inch of his life the next day, with all the evidence pointing to Jay. Under suspicion from his boss’s family (while he’s in an induced coma), the law and the locals, Jay must prove his innocence, stay one step ahead of the local house clearance competition and try to find the missing boy…

With the summer now well and truly upon us – it’s peak reading season for those escaping for two weeks to hotter climbs with nothing better planned then lounging by the pool or on the beach with book in hand. In Cliffords Give Up The Dead – you have a perfect read, if nothing else takes your fancy.

Steptoe-and-Son2

Steptoe & Son

Although the story isn’t original, it does keep you intrigued and you get a real feel for the character and his woes in relation to the current hand life has dealt him. I could really get into the other books in the series and also with any future stories Clifford has planned for Jay Porter.

The setting in deep mid-winter in North America might give do more than take the edge off the hot balmy holiday, even I felt a deep shiver go through my body regularly when I read it in early May. Along with a bit of SAD setting in with every page seemingly describing grey dull days or horrendous whiteouts and driving snow.

This is the third book in the jay porter series the previous two being Lamentation in 2014

Joe Clifford

Joe Clifford

and December Boys in 2016. Although these aren’t the only books written by Joe Clifford (www.joeclifford.com)  a former drug addict who now lives with his family in San Francisco. The others are Junkie Love in 2013, Wake The Undertaker in 2013, Choice Cuts in 2012 and a collection of crime stories inspired by the songs of Bruce Springsteen which he edited called Trouble In The Heartland which was published in 2014.

So get your Parka jacket on or if you are reading this on holiday,  slip on a jumper and see if you can’t get into the world of Jay Porter in the icy, snow blanketed countryside of New Hampshire. Then go peruse the other books in the series whilst you await the next installment from an up and coming American writer.

WILSON HAS ME YEARNING TO GO ‘BACK TO BLACK’ GIVEN THE OPTION…

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comfrt-of-blk-cvrMy husband  works in the hospitality sector – or to be more precise publishes an Irish Hospitality trade magazine. Although in the past he’s held  a number of roles in the hospitality field, from reservations team member for a chain of five star London hotels to reservations account manager with the second largest car hire company in the world and as an account manager with one of the leading car-hire websites. In his spare time, as you may already have seen from being a regular visitor, he writes and edits this site. So, as they often say, there’s a book inside all of us and I have no doubt he will write one in the future. But till then we’ll  have to be contented with  some one else in the hospitality industry making it as a successful writer.  That person is Carter Wilson and this month’s book is his third novel “The Comfort of Black” published by Oceanview Publishing (www.oceanviewpub.com) .

Hannah and her tech start up owner husband, Dallin have it all. They live in Seattle, in an Condo overlooking the city. They are on the verge of taking the next step in their marriage by starting a family but over the recent months Dallin has become distant and then one night in his sleep he starts talking aggressively to another woman. A couple of days later when Hannah Confronts him about it he attacks her. She manages to escape to the safety of her sisters house but when she agrees to meet him on neutral ground to talk things over, Dalinn tries to have her kidnapped. Only the intervention of a mild mannered stranger she met in a coffee shop moments before the abduction thwarts Dalinn’s plan. Who is Black Morrow? what is Dallin up to and what does it have to do with her past? The past that she and her sister had thought they’d left behind?

seattle-skyline

 

We are initially introduced the Hannah, The Comfort of Black’s main character by visiting a traumatic event in her childhood. I found this captured my interest immediately and built some empathy for a character who, if I wasn’t aware of her background, I would have had little initial enthusiasm for. I must admit I found a couple of the character names preposterous. Maybe that’s my northern English roots rebelling. Or maybe it was part of Wilson’s design , to delineate so clearly between the working class folk of Kansas and the Hollywood like glamour of Dallin and Black Morrow. I mean, surely his surname could have been Black! However, Hannah’s back story and the immediate sense of secrets and mystery prevented me from dropping the book with snort of derision.  Hannah finds her life with successful technology entrepreneur, Dallin isn’t all as happy and contented as she thought. Already concerned that he has grown distant she is horrified when he reveals a startling dark side whist talking in his sleep. Hannah decides to investigate. Is the man she married who she thinks he is? As she tries to find the truth, her whole life is turned upside down and abduction, violence and even murder ensue. Who can Hannah trust?  Who is the architect of her nightmare situation?

Carter Wilson (www.carterwilson.com) was born in New Mexico and grew up In LA. He studied at Cornell and is now a consultant and lecturer in the hospitality industry. His other books are Final Crossing (2012), The Boy In The Woods (2014) and his latest, Revelation, just published at the end of 2016. One wonders if this rather dull sounding persona is merely a blind for an exciting double life as a spy or mercenary because he certainly seems to be extremely familiar with a murky underworld of fixers and criminals. As for my husband, the jury is still out…

Whilst all his books are thrillers, Carter cannot be easily categorized within the thriller genre. His novel ‘The Boy in The Woods’ is about a young boy who witnesses a murder and

carter-wilson

Carter Wilson

is unable to put the memory out of his mind. Later as a thriller writer he recounts the story, representing it as fiction. He is contacted by the person he believes is the killer and a deadly game ensues.’ Final Crossing’, his other novel is about a religiously motivated serial killer being pursued by an ex ranger and a psychic detective. There seems to be no common denominator here. I feel it’s kind of refreshing that the settings and plots are so different. Certainly not predictable! His influences appear wide ranging as Dan Brown, Gillian Flynn, Dennis Lehane, Lee child, Ian Fleming and Stephen King all sprang to mind whilst looking at synopses of his work. As these are some of the best thriller writers, he is in good company.

It’s actually a very difficult book to put down at all. Wilson keeps you guessing with every twist and turn and ratchets up the tension continuously. Even a regular reader of thrillers, like myself, was left giddy with each revelation. Every time I thought I had it sussed, there I was, wrong again! There was even romance in the mix. I won’t spoil the conclusion which tied everything up nicely but I must admit to being a little disappointed at the loss of a main character with more to give.

This is certainly a book I shall recommend to male and female friends alike. A great holiday read. I look forward to finding more of Carter Wilson’s enthralling and hopefully crazily named characters in his previous and future works..

 

Reviewed by  Georgina Murphy